Character interludes

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Character interludes are a part of the Halo 3 campaign, in which either Cortana or the Gravemind telepathically address the Master Chief and often muse introspectively. During these interludes, the player's movements will slow drastically, as will their ability to turn and face another direction. A screen effect will alter the display of the game.

During a Cortana interlude, the screen turns blue, and Cortana's image flashes in and out of focus on the screen. Her voice will contain a slight echo and sometimes a deeply-pitched distortion effect, and her image will erratically "jump" around the screen. During a Cortana moment there will also be a noise sounding vaguely similar to the noise heard if one places a seashell in their ear.

During a Gravemind interlude, the player's view become murky green, and tentacle-like imagery can be seen at the edge of the screen. The screen will shake in unison with the Gravemind's voice, shaking far more violently if Gravemind is screaming or yelling in anger at John-117.

The Cortana interludes depict her descent into rampancy, while the Gravemind moments are used to convey the point of view of the Flood. Checkpoints are usually attained after these moments. The player is almost never in any danger of damage while the interludes occur, which is fortunate, as the player cannot move quickly. It is possible in co-op mode for one player to trigger the interlude while the other player is behind fighting enemies that the first one skipped. During any of these moments, the player is completely immune to damage and will not be attacked even by nearby enemies.[citation needed]

The Halo Evolutions story Human Weakness provides an explanation for the Cortana interludes. It is revealed that the Gravemind had successfully hijacked Cortana's system, allowing him to speak with her voice. This was part of his plan to persuade Cortana and John-117 that Cortana was descending into rampancy. It is, however, not explained how the Gravemind was able to connect to John-117 all the way from High Charity.

Cortana battled the Gravemind, trying to hold onto the data about the Portal and the Ark. She ends up creating multiple copies of herself to distract the Gravemind and twice they apparently chime in during her conversations with the Gravemind. One adds the "I am a monument to all your sins" part of one of the interludes while the rest is Cortana defying Gravemind to buy the Master Chief time. Cortana places the message onto a Flood-controlled cruiser by composing it with the help of a copy and then transmitting it to that ship through Gravemind's link to it, with part of it being coded to seek out and upload itself to the nearest data device. Gravemind then reveals that he knew and helped out as he wanted to lure all of his enemies to one place, but had no idea what the message actually said.


Cortana, in a Cortana interlude.


  • Cortana {Voice Only}: "They let me pick. Did I ever tell you that? Choose whichever Spartan I wanted."
  • Cortana {Voice Only}: "You know me. I did my research. Watched as you became the soldier we needed you to be."
  • Cortana {Voice Only}: "Like the others, you were strong and swift and brave. A natural leader."
  • Cortana {Voice Only}: "But you had something they didn't. Something no one saw..."
  • Cortana {Voice Only}: "...but me."
  • Cortana {Voice Only}: "Can you guess?"
  • Cortana {Voice Only}: "Luck."
  • Cortana {Voice Only}: "Was I wrong?"
  • (Cortana Interlude): "Don't make a girl a promise... if you know you can't keep it."

These moments happen during a cinematic and Cortana's face is not seen except for the last one listed.

Sierra 117[edit]

  • (Cortana Interlude): "Could you sacrifice me to complete your mission? Could you watch me die?" (referencing a quote from Dr. Halsey)

This and the last Arrival interlude are the only times any NPCs notice them.

Crow's Nest[edit]

  • (Cortana Interlude): "You have been called upon to serve." (repeated quote from Dr Halsey)
  • (Cortana Interlude): "You will be the protector of Earth and all her colonies." (repeated quote from Dr Halsey)
  • (Cortana Interlude): "There will be a great deal of hardship on the road ahead." (repeated quote from Dr Halsey)
  • (Cortana Interlude): "You will become the best we can make you." (repeated quote from Dr Halsey)
  • (Cortana Interlude): "This place will become your home." (repeated quote from Dr Halsey)
  • (Cortana Interlude {Voice Only}): "This place will become your tomb."

The Storm[edit]

  • (Cortana Interlude): "I have defied gods and demons..."
  • (Cortana Interlude): "I am your shield... I am your sword."
  • Cortana {Voice Only}: "This is the way the world ends..." (This moment happens during a cinematic and Cortana's face very briefly seen just before the screen goes black.)


  • (Cortana Interlude): "Chief. {background mumbling} I can't tell you's not safe. The Gravemind... it knows I'm in the system..." {background mumbling} (this moment is later revealed to be part of Cortana's message to the Master Chief recovered from a Flood-infested CCS-class battlecruiser)
  • (Gravemind Interlude): "Do not be afraid. I am peace... I am salvation."
  • (Gravemind Interlude): "I am a timeless chorus. Join your voice with mine, and sing victory everlasting!"

The Covenant[edit]

  • (Cortana Interlude): "It asked, and I answered. (Her tone turns bitter) For a moment of safety, I loosed damnation on the stars."
  • (Cortana Interlude): "I'm a thief... but I keep what I steal."


A Gravemind Moment in Halo 3.
  • (Gravemind Interlude): "Child of my enemy, why have you come? I offer no forgiveness... for a father's sins passed to his son."
  • (Cortana Interlude): (A strange mix of cries of agony and manic laughter.)
  • (Gravemind Interlude): "Of course, you came for her... We exist together now. Two corpses in one grave." (repeated quote from Halo 2 level High Charity)
  • (Cortana Interlude {Voice Only}): "A collection of lies; that's all I am! Stolen thoughts and memories!"
  • (Gravemind Interlude): "And yet, perhaps a part of her remains?"
  • (Cortana Interlude {Voice Only}): (Laughter, in response to the Gravemind.)
  • (Gravemind Interlude): (angry) "Time has taught me patience! But basking in new freedom, I will know all that I possess!"
  • (Cortana Interlude {Voice Only}): "May I speak with you, please?... What's your name? It's very nice to meet you! ...You like games? So do I." (repeated quote from Dr Halsey)
  • (Cortana Interlude): "It was the coin's fault! I wanted to make you strong; keep you safe. I'm sorry, I can't." (reference to Dr Halsey; only available upon accessing the eighth Terminal)
  • (Cortana Interlude {Voice Only}): I'm just my mother's shadow. Don't look at me, don't listen! I'm not what I used to be..."
  • (Cortana Interlude): (panicking) "I have walked the edge of the abyss. I have seen your future. And I have learned!" (Repeated quote from the Cortana Letters)
  • (Gravemind Interlude): (angry) "Submit! End her torment and my own!"
  • (Cortana Interlude): (panicking) "There will be no more sadness, no more anger, no more envy!" (Referencing rampancy and quoting the Cortana Letters)
  • (Gravemind Interlude): (angry) "You will show me what she hides, or I shall feast upon your bones!"
  • (Cortana Interlude): (speaking in a flat, monotone voice as though brainwashed. Her image is green). "This is UNSC AI Serial Number CTN0452-9. I am a monument to all your sins." (quoting the Gravemind in the latter sentence)
  • (Gravemind Interlude): (roars) "At last, I see! Her secret is revealed!"


  • (Gravemind Interlude {Voice Only}): (taunting, angry) "Did you think me defeated?!"
  • (Gravemind Interlude {Voice Only}): (enraged) "I have beaten fleets of thousands! Consumed a galaxy of flesh and mind and bone!"
  • (Gravemind Interlude): "Do I take life, or give it? Who is victim... and who is foe?"
  • (Gravemind Interlude {Voice Only}): (sadly, defeated) "Resignation is my virtue... like water I ebb and flow. Defeat is simply an addition of time to a sentence I never deserved, but you imposed."



  • In Sierra 117, the corpsman tells the player that during the first Cortana interlude, John-117's vital signs momentarily ping KIA, which may be the reason the player slows down, as the armor functions using the user's neural signs instead of muscles, which makes it still possible for the Master Chief to move even if his vital signs have stopped but his brain is intact and functioning.
  • The fact that the Cortana interludes affect the Arbiter is quite odd, as the Arbiter has no connection to Cortana, and has no CNI that would allow her to communicate to him, as Captain Keyes did to the Chief. Bungie may have overlooked this problem, or intentionally left it so it wouldn't be that only one player would get the Cortana Moments. More than likely it is simply a gameplay aspect, and the Arbiter was not canonically privy to the interludes.
  • The "It was the coin's fault" interlude in the level Cortana is a reference to Dr. Halsey's examination of a six-year-old John before he was drafted into the Spartan II program. Halsey flipped a 21st century quarter, and John correctly identified the eagle side of the coin that was about to the hit the ground before it did. Halsey explained to then-lieutenant Jacob Keyes that this was a means of weeding out the "unlucky" applicants, as there were only a limited number of slots available.
  • Many of Cortana's lines, as noted above, are repeated lines Dr. Halsey has said before. One such line is, "You will be the protectors of Earth and all her colonies.", which Dr. Halsey says to the six-year-old Spartans in Halo: The Fall of Reach. Cortana also recites a few lines from the Cortana Letters and Halo 3 Announcement Trailer.
  • Dialog cut from the game featured many more references to both the novels and the Cortana Letters. For example, Cortana reciting the entire poem from the first Cortana Letter was recorded, although only parts of it are used in the final game. Cortana's cut dialog also included more references to Dr. Halsey's lines from the novels, such as the entirety of her speech to the Spartan inductees. The Gravemind also had more lines recorded, many of them being extended versions of its dialog featured in the final game.[1]
  • In one of the last Cortana interludes, Cortana turns green. In Halo: Combat Evolved, upon entering the computer systems of Installation 04's Control Room and being exposed to the wealth of information contained there, Cortana also turns green and begins to behave quite oddly, experiencing sharp mood swings and displaying rude contempt for both the Master Chief and 343 Guilty Spark. It is noted in Halo: First Strike that exposure to such floods of raw information can greatly shorten the operational lifespan of a smart AI. The presence of green, therefore, serves as an indication of rampancy (a reference to the AI Durandal in the Marathon series).
  • During some of the interludes, Gravemind dialogue from Halo 2 is re-used. In a Gravemind interlude, he repeats a line from the Halo 2 level High Charity when he broadcasts himself over High Charity's system in response to Truth, saying: "...we exist together now, two corpses in one grave." Another recycled line is from the cut scene during which the Gravemind introduces himself saying: "I? I am a monument to all of your sins." It is actually Cortana who repeats this line, displaying the extent of her corruption.


  • If you use the 3 Player Local Co Op glitch, during the Cortana interludes, the game will freeze because it was not meant for three-player split-screen campaign. Strangely, Gravemind interludes function normally.
  • If you take a screenshot of a moment from the Theater, it will appear completely black in the screenshot gallery, adding some mystery to the entire perception. In the level The Covenant, if one forces a Warthog into Truth's Citadel (using the Wraith) and drives straight for the door, nonstop, they may activate both the Cortana interlude and the preceding cutscene at the same time. During this, the cutscene will have a bluish tint with two extra blue layers. This effect could be what causes screenshots during Cortana interludes to blank out, although it could also have been a desired side effect of Bungie to prevent all but cutscene screenshots of Cortana from being taken.
  • If there is background music playing during the gameplay, it will pause during any Cortana/Gravemind interludes.
  • After any Cortana/Gravemind interludes, there will be vertical lines running down Master Chief's HUD (or visor). The armor's helmet automatically refreshes the visor afterward.
  • If a moment occurs while one is driving a vehicle, it slows down as well. However, if the player is a passenger, then the vehicle goes at normal speed.
  • Interludes will not slow down a jump, a melee, or attacking with something such as the Gravity Hammer.


  • Excluding Arrival (where it should still be noted there is a Cortana interlude before choosing your controls) there are seven levels where the Gravemind and Cortana interludes occur. Excluding the interlude in Arrival, there are twenty-eight interludes in total—seven times four.
  • In the level Cortana, there is a secret Terminal in the room where she says, "You like games? So do I.". When the terminal is accessed, Cortana will completely take over John's HUD (as well as those of any other players, including Elites), mentioning the coin quote.
  • During the level The Covenant, as the player enters the Citadel during the Cortana moment, if they look at the screens that, during the next cutscene, show the Prophet of Truth, Cortana also shows up on them.